Bucket List: Things to do Before the Semester Ends by Annie Bettis

Ride a vespa through the hills of Tuscany: This is on the very top of my bucket list of things I must do this spring in Italy. After over one year of being in Florence I have never driven a Vespa myself and, although I’ve been in the Tuscany hills many times, I’ve never toured them so freely. You can either rent a vespa and plan your own picnic or you can book a tour through one of the companies in Florence (we recommend Fun in Tuscany and Tuscany Bike Tours). Most group tours include lunch and wine tasting! Now that the weather is looking up, it is the best time to get out and explore the countryside of this beautiful region.
Secret Bakery: Maybe you are already an expert on which secret bakeries sell which pastries at which time, but that doesn’t mean that you should let this fall by the wayside! America is not known for its pastries the way Italy is, so whether it’s a breakfast treat or a late night munchie, get your pastries in before it’s too late!
Cinque Terre–or any seaside venture: You have waited your entire semester to see the beauty of Italy bathed in spring sunshine. That time has come, now make the most of the Italian summer and get to the seaside. If you want a town that combines the culture of old Italy, with sweeping coastal views and beach side fun head to Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast. In both destinations you have a chance to visit multiple famous Italian towns set directly on the country’s coast. Italian towns are well known for their colorful buildings and these bright facades stand out even more beautifully against the glow of an azure sea. You will not regret taking one of these trips. If you can’t get away for one of these trips, hop on the train and take the approximately two hour ride to Viareggio, famous for its beaches and nightclubs!
Wine Tasting: Go anywhere, anywhere in Tuscany that you can get to for a wine tasting. The little town of Panzano (which we visit on our Hiking in Chianti Tour) is famous for the butcher, Dario Cecchini, who resides there. Take a peak inside his little shop and get a fresh taste of olive oil and freshly prepared lard. Or book a dinner with him and another group of tourists, where you’ll be sat at a table all together in true Italian fashion. There are many wine towns spread all over the Tuscany hillside, so take your pick; Montalcino is the producer of the Brunello di Montalcino, repeatedly called the best wine in Tuscany.
Bistecca Fiorentina: Have you tried this barely cooked specialty yet? It’s a must, as long as you are not a vegetarian! Be sure to bring a friend though because most restaurants only serve it is full-size portions. I see many visitors requesting to have the pieces slightly more cooked, which of course is left to your own preference. If you can stomach it though, I highly recommend having them cook it to their own professional standards. Almost raw meat can be scary, but it’s so delightfully tasty that you’ll be satisfied that those Italians really do know what they are doing. Add a small sprinkle of fresh olive oil and that is really all you need. There is a reason that people come to Florence just to sample this huge cut of meat. It’s just that good.
Enjoy a Bottle on the Steps of the Duomo: Usually the first night you arrive fall semester, this is the standard. Grab a slice of pizza and a bottle of wine and find your post on the steps of the Duomo. Until the weather starts changing, this will become your usual routine; for lunch, dinner or your pre-drink before you hit the nightclubs. That doesn’t help out those students arriving for spring semester in the middle of January’s blistering cold. Now it’s time! Post up early on a Saturday and enjoy the fruits of the city’s labor. Gelato, a bottle of Chianti Classico, a slice or a sandwich and you have it made. What a movie script ending to the perfect semester.
See a Fiorentina Soccer Game: Chances are that you are already a die-hard fan, how can you not be in this town? If you haven’t had a chance to see Fiorentina play for real, do not miss out. Now that the nighttime breezes aren’t unbearable, you have no excuse to miss a home game! Be sure to get your drinks in outside the stadium as there is a strict no alcohol policy inside the stadium. Trust me, it’s a good thing when it comes to Italian soccer fans. If you don’t like soccer, go for the truly cultural experience. Most Italians are such loyal fans that whether or not their team is having a winning season (ahem… Fiorentina..) they will be at every single game. Rain, shine, snow; it does not make a difference to them. Calcio is a huge part of Italian culture, so much so that most other sports fall to the wayside. So, head to the San Lorenzo market and pick out your favorite Viola t-shirt and get ready for a night of wild enthusiasm!
What things are on the top of your list to do before you go home?

  • Stop by the FFF Office to book Vespa Riding, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Fiorentina tickets or train tickets!! 

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